This Cinco de Mayo, celebrate the spirit of Mexico with some refreshing spirits of your own. Try these easy-to-follow cocktail recipes with just a few ingredients! And support local Mexican-owned businesses in your area and order out some delectable food from a local Mexican restaurant to go along with these drinks.
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo isn’t really Mexico’s Independence Day. Rather, the holiday commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French during the Battle of Puebla, and over time, it’s become a popular holiday in the US as a celebration of Mexican culture. Food and drinks are synonymous with Cinco de Mayo festivities, and if you’re planning a fiesta (perhaps over Zoom or in a socially distanced setting), or supporting local Mexican-owned businesses by ordering take-out from a Mexican restaurant, these are the cocktails you’ll want to sip. They’re tasty, refreshing, and easy to make, so even the novice home bartender can master them in no time.
The classic Margarita stars as the main cocktail for many Cinco de Mayo parties, but if you’re in the mood for something slightly different, try a Margarita with mezcal. Like tequila, mezcal is a spirit made from agave, but it has a notably smokier and grassier profile, which lends far more complexity to the drink. It’s still bright and refreshing, but that hint of smoke takes this cocktail to the next level, and makes it a great partner for carne asada tacos and elotes.
1 ½ oz mezcal
¾ oz triple sec
¾ freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp agave nectar
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the ingredients. Shake well, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime, if desired.
If you like a little spice in your drink (and really, who doesn’t?) mix up a Chili Paloma this Cinco de Mayo. The Paloma is based on tequila and grapefruit soda, and this version sees the addition of fresh chilis to bring the heat. While jalapenos offer a nice bite, we love the kick of serrano peppers. Thai chilis would also be a treat in this sweet-tangy cocktail – choose the pepper that will please your palate the most. For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Nothing else quite compares.
2 oz tequila blanco
1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
¾ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ oz agave nectar
¼-inch slice of serrano pepper
Add the pepper and agave nectar to a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add ice, then pour the tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime juice and shake well. Pour the contents of the shaker into a cocktail glass and top with grapefruit soda.
The Chelada is a light easy-drinking palate-cleanser that will pair well with just about anything. This beer cocktail is crisp, citrusy, and perfect to sip on whenever it’s hot out. Mexican lagers are the go-to beer for making Cheladas, but any pilsner-style lager will do the job. While you can use salt to garnish the rim of the cocktail glass, we highly recommend picking up some Tajin, a zesty Mexican chili lime seasoning that should be in everyone’s spice cupboard.
1 bottle of Mexican lager
Juice of 1 lime
Run a wedge of lime around the rim of the cocktail glass. Pour some Tajin onto a plate, and dip the glass in it. Pour ice into the glass. Add in the lime juice, top with beer, and garnish with a lime wedge, if desired.
Spiked Pineapple Agua Fresca
When the mercury rises, sipping on a glass of agua fresca is one of the best ways to cool down. Agua frescas are made without alcohol, but they’re easy to spike if you want to make a grown-up version. Make it ahead of time and store it without ice in the fridge, or serve it immediately. While this recipe uses pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, guava, or papaya would all be delicious alternatives. If you’re looking for a tipple you can easily batch, this one’s for you.
3 cups water
3 cups pineapple, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons agave nectar
¼ cup tequila blanco
1 lime, juiced
Pour the ingredients into a blender filled with ice. Blitz until smooth, then strain through a sieve into a pitcher. Pour into cocktail glasses filled with ice and serve immediately.